Watch Japanese TV on your Computer With KeyHoleTV

I just started using KeyHole TV for Mac. With KeyHole TV you can watch Japanese TV right on your computer, all you need is an Internet connection.

Watching TV is a great way to improve listening comprehension skills. It’s also a great introduction to modern Japanese culture. With TV even if you don’t know exactly what is being said you can figure out a lot out from the context. Trust me, foreign language TV is good for you!

KeyHole TV is available for both Mac and Windows.

Xorsyst has posted detailed instructions on how to install KeyHole TV for Windows. Check it out. If you’ve got a mac, just follow the mac download link and you’ll know what to do. It’s straightforward.

KeyHoleTV Interface

The interface isn’t the best – in fact it’s ugly and confusing… Basically you just double click on the program you want to watch and before long the audio and video will start playing.

Crazy Japanese Game Shows on KeyHoleTV

You can click the Program Button to switch back and select something else to watch.

Kids these days… They don’t know how good they’ve got it. Back in my day I had to go down to the neighborhood Korean food mart and rent the bootleg video cassettes they had of Japanese TV to get my fix. Video cassettes! I bet some Japannewbie readers have never even used a VHS tape… I digress.

If you’re studying Japanese you have no excuse not to use this excellent resource. Go work that listening comprehension!

Download KeyHole TV for Mac:

Read the xorsyst review of KeyHole TV for Windows, and follow @xorsyst on Twitter.

Note, @lordsilent on Twitter pointed out that TvAnts has better sound quality than KeyHoleTV. I haven’t tried it yet as I only have a Mac and the Mac Setup for TvAnts is not something I want to get into.

@DevilTale reports that TVU Player and are also alternatives to check out.

Look at all the options you have! Does anyone else have any other sources of Japanese TV? Please share in the comments!

– Harvey

P.S. Want more variety of shows? Watch TV shows online with’s selection of the latest exciting TV shows.

Study in Japan at a University or Private School?

Someone recently contacted me asking for my opinion on study abroad in Japan. This person is current in University and has the opportunity to study at IUC Japan, Nanzan University (or any other large Japanese school with an exchange program), or the Kyoto Consortium.

I have studied at both Nanzan (in 2001) and IUC (in 2007-8) so I can speak to those. I have never studied at the Kyoto program, but I still have something to say about it – so read on!

There are two major differences between IUC and a program like Nanzan that must not be ignored.

IUC has an extremely intensive language program where your classmates will be other English speaking foreigners – mostly graduate students or professional adults.

Nanzan has an average difficulty language program where your classmates will be students from all over the world, (in my day we had folks from the UK, Tibet, Indonesia, Korea, the USA, and more!) and you will also have access to a campus full of Japanese students your age.

These are important differences.

To get right to the point… unless you have already lived in Japan and the whole “exchange student” experience is irrelevant to you, I strongly recommend a program like Nanzan over IUC.

As an exchange student at Nanzan University (and other universities as well) you will learn first hand about Japanese culture from Japanese people your age, make friends, and experience a Japanese university environment. Nanzan University even has a school dorm where foreigners and Japanese can live together. Alternatively, you can arrange a home stay (like I did) and live with a Japanese family. IUC does not provide housing, so you’ll be living somewhere in the city and may or may not have neighbors who want to talk to you.

The ability to interact with Japanese students is a huge plus. At a place like Nanzan you’ll learn Japanese slang, you’ll notice differences between Nagoya dialect and standard Japanese, and you’ll have a chance to live in a Japanese city that’s not Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe, or Osaka. You’ll get to eat in the school cafeteria with Japanese students! I cannot stress that enough. Being a student in a Japanese university as a foreigner is nothing but fun.

Now, if your only goal is to become extremely accurate and proficient in advanced Japanese then you can do no better than IUC. The teachers are top notch, the curriculum is insanely rigorous, and the texts are great. Nanzan has a solid program for sure, but it’s a Japanese university. Japanese universities, frankly, are not up to the academic standards of U.S. universities. (Not sure about other parts of the world, I went to U.S. university so I’ll speak to what I know.)

IUC is located in Minatomirai in Yokohama, a very business and consumer oriented location where Japanese students do not hang out. You’re not going to randomly make Japanese friends easily while studying at IUC. In fact, you likely won’t have the time to make any friends at IUC if you plan to keep up with your work! The curriculum is extremely busy. I’ll say it again. Busy. Frankly, the entire environment is very sterile and you would have to go out of your way to find the “real” Japan and get down with the locals.

One last note on the Nanzan versus IUC debate. If you’re going to be studying Japanese for the long haul, note that most students at IUC are people who have already lived in Japan for quite some time. Many of them are in the middle of phd programs, and many (like me) have already done exchange programs in Japanese universities prior. The point is, if you’re a university student now you can study abroad during your university career, and then go to IUC later in life. This is completely normal, and probably the better way to do it. Unless maybe you’re in a mad hurry to develop excellent Japanese skills… then maybe IUC is warranted.

I do not know much about the Kyoto program, but I can say that Kyoto is an absolutely beautiful place. Passing up the opportunity to live and study in Kyoto will be something that you’ll kick yourself for one day, I can guarantee. Not that the education will be any better, but Kyoto is just a marvelous place and few people ever get the chance to live there.

The opportunity to live in Kyoto does not present itself very often. Most foreigners end up in Tokyo, Osaka, or Kobe. That’s just where the opportunities happen to be. As a linguist studying in Kyoto would be interesting because you could learn the unique Kyoto version of Kansai dialect. I love Kansai-ben, so maybe I’m biased. Even if you’re not a linguist it’s hard to beat Kyoto as a place to really absorb the mix of modernity and history that is Japanese culture.

Man, all this talk is making me nostalgic!

Does anyone else have any opinions on this topic? Where would you study if you had the opportunity?

[Update 08/12/2010]
Here is a pretty comprehensive list of language schools in Japan. Thanks to @rich_pav for this link!


Related Entries:
Nanzan School Festival

IUC in Yokohama as an Advanced Student

Japanese School Recommendations

A picture from Nanzan University Gakusai (School Festival) in 2004

Nanzan University Gakusai 2004
Nanzan University Gakusai 2004

Red Beard (Akahige) by Akira Kurosawa

Akirakurosawa's 赤ひげ "Red Beard"
Akirakurosawa's 赤ひげ "Red Beard"

A while ago I recommended that a Japanese friend in Osaka watch Kurosawa’s Yojimbo & Sanjuro, she did, she loved them, and then started a Kurosawa kick of her own.

Side note. There are a lot of Japanese who have never seen a Kurosawa film. No “Seven Samurai”, no “Ikiru”, nothing. I guess this isn’t too surprising, I mean, I don’t think I have ever actually watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.” To many they’re just old movies. Most all Japanese have heard of Kurosawa and his films, but many have never taken the time to sit down and take one in. I’m not going to say it’s a shame… But, I dunno. もったいない!

Anyway, eventually she caught up with me and recommended that I watch Kurosawa’s Red Beard (赤ひげ akahige). I was surprised that I hadn’t even heard of that one before, so quickly looked it up and borrowed it from the school library. I’m glad I did, now it’s one of my favorites!

I don’t like to talk about movie plots too much so that I can avoid spoilers… But let’s just say that this was one of the most touching films I have ever seen. Toshiro Mifune plays Red Beard, an astute doctor who has a way with tough love. Mifune does have one fun action scene, but otherwise this is a story of human compassion and learning to care for others. When I tweeted that I would be watching it one of my Japanese Twitter friends said…


Which roughly translates into, “Akahige is a wonderful film overflowing with human love. If I run into a doctor who hasn’t seen this film… I’m gonna make them into sashimi!”

Of course, @htazawa’s avatar happens to be an image from a Kurosawa movie… so maybe he’s a bit biased.

You guys are going to think I’m a softy if I go on any longer, so I’ll leave it at that. Go see this movie. If you’re on a University campus check the library. If not, check your public library. Otherwise, hit up Netflix or Amazon or something. It’s worth it!

– Harvey

Check out this other post about Kurosawa’s “I Live in Fear.”

An Introduction to Visual-kei with Megamasso

I bet many JapanNewbie readers know more about Visual-kei than I do. Basically it’s a genre of music, usually rock, in which the “visuals” are extremely important in that the band members wear a variety of flamboyant and elaborate costumes.

Don’t take my word for it though – here is an exclusive interview arranged by Realway Media where Megamasso explains visual-kei.

Here is another interview where they talk about their costumes.

You can get a lot of Megamasso music over on

Megamasso, an all boy Visual-kei Band
Megamasso, an all boy Visual-kei Band

Here’s their PV for White, White.

Here’s another track. Bless.

What do you think? Are you into visual-kei?


Japanese Movie: The Eel

I watched The Eel by Shohei Imamura last night.

I had hadn’t heard of this film. A friend teaching Japanese at a nearby university told me about it, so I decided to check it out. I’m glad I did!

The Eel

I heard through “the Internets” that this film was creepy, slow, and a bit psycho. Maybe I’ve just watched too many Japanese movies and become desensitized, but I did not find this slow at all. It is a little creepy, but in a good way. And it’s certainly not over the top psycho. I enjoyed this film a lot and would highly recommend it.

The Eel has just the right balance of intensity, drama, and one off humor to keep it interesting. The film stars Koji Yakusho of Shall We Dance, Tampopo, and Babel fame, and he’s great as always.

The next paragraph is a brief plot introduction. No major spoilers, but if you’re the kind of person who reads NOTHING before seeing a movie, maybe it would be better to skip this next paragraph.


The movie opens up with Mr. Yamashita being clued in by a mysterious letter that his wife has been cheating on him while he is away on his overnight fishing trips. He heads home early one night and catches his wife and her lover in the act. Violence ensues and he ends up killing his wife. Mr. Yamashita turns himself into the cops and does eight years in jail. The bulk of the movie starts when he gets out of jail and attempts to reintegrate himself into society.

Mr. Yamashita has a pet eel that he brings out from the prison. He likes to talk to it. Why does he talk to the eel?

hanashi wo kiitekurerun desu. soreni yokei na koto wo shaberimasenkara.
“He listens to what I have to say. And he doesn’t say anything unnecessary.”



Okay you can start reading again.

Over the past year I have seen a lot of Japanese movies. Way more than I ever saw while I was actually in Japan. There are a few reasons for this. One, I’m trying to maintain my Japanese listening comprehension. Two, my school library has a ton of international films. And three (and four?), I like movies and I have a decent TV now, unlike when I was in Japan and didn’t watch much TV at home – it was too much fun exploring outside for that!

Good times.

Check out some of my other Movie posts:
Kurosawa: I Live in Fear
My Secret Cache

There are even more than that, use the search to dig them up.

Hope some of you have a chance to see this one!

– Harvey

How to learn to write Japanese Hiragana

Here’s a video from Of course, there are many ways to learn Hiragana, and this is just one of them. I like the idea of saying the hiragana as you write them to connect the visual, the action of writing, and the sound all in your head.

Of course, it takes sheer force of will to actually do this… and to be honest when I was learning hiragana and katakana in high school I didn’t. Then again, I had a teacher going around the room calling on us to read passages out loud as well. So if you are studying on your own and don’t have the pressure of being potentially embarrassed in front of all your classmates, maybe you should give this method a try.

This video is a Singaporean production. Love the accent! On a side note, my ramblings on twitter have lead me to notice that there are a lot of South East Asians studying Japanese. Malaysians, Indonesians, Singaporeans, Thais… and lots of them. It makes sense, Japan being the nearest powerful economy, and the vast majority of Monbusho Fellowship recipients seem to be from that region as well, but videos like this and live interaction on Twitter really bring that reality home.

Once you have learned to write all the hiragana characters you can use something like our Hiragana iPod Touch or iPhone application to check whether you can properly recognize the characters after hearing them spoken.

The video claims that you can learn all the Hiragana in just 9 days if you use this method. And if you really do this method, you really can learn them in that amount of time. Most universities will not spend a lot of time on Hiragana and Katakana, I would venture to say 2-3 weeks max.

The app quiz will play the audio of a random character and have you pick the correct Hiragana from a random line up of options.

Give it a try! We also have a similar app for Katakana available.

Happy ひらがなing!


Japanese 101: Hiragana App Cover

Japanese 101: Hiragana App Quiz mode